When Winnipeg Jets
coach Claude Noel was drawing his game plan in hope of his team winning its first road game, you can be pretty sure it didn't include anything he saw from his team on the ice Thursday.
The Jets twice surrendered four-goal leads in the final two periods, but Andrew Ladd
's goal with 1:06 in regulation gave them a 9-8 victory in the highest-scoring NHL game in 15 years.
Nine players scored for the Jets, while six players had goals for the Flyers -- Danny Briere
and James van Riemsdyk
had two goals apiece.
"That wasn't my idea of the way to win on the road or the way to manage the game," Noel said. "But we'll take the two points and go from there."
It was the Jets' first road win of the season (1-3-1), and started the team's season-long seven-game road trip on the right foot.
"We came out with two points, and it feels good to get two points at start of a long road trip," defenseman Zach Bogosian
said, "but we also know we have to be a lot better than that."
Players and coaches from both sides were left shaking their heads at what they saw on the ice. The Jets couldn't hold 5-1 and 6-2 leads, the teams combined for five goals in the first 4:31 of the third period, and each club scored five unanswered goals at different points in the game.
"I definitely didn't come in here thinking we'd win 9-8," Ladd said. "It was kind of like (1990s hockey video game) 'Blades of Steel' out there."
"I've seen one team scoring eight, nine or even 10 goals maybe once or twice," said Briere, who also had two assists. "Usually it's 9-3, 9-2, 10-2, something like that. I've never seen 17 goals in a game."
"It was the strangest game I think I've been a part of," said Noel. "I was in an 8-1 game where we came back and won 9-8, but this has to be the strangest. … Like an NFL game."
Sticking with Noel's metaphor, it was Ladd, who was sporting six stitches in his nose and two black eyes from a puck that hit him in the face, who scored the extra point.
With regulation ticking down, Bryan Little
and Blake Wheeler
cycled the puck deep in the Philadelphia end. Wheeler wheeled below the goal line, and as he turned around to look for help, he tossed the puck into the slot where Ladd sneaked through and banged the puck behind Ilya Bryzgalov
Even with just 66 seconds left on the clock, Noel wasn't sure it was the game's final goal.
"Not the way it was going," he said. "I just wanted to defend there. I wasn't sure. I had the rosary out. I had everything going tonight."
The winning goal capped a game that saw the Jets take leads of 5-1 and 6-2 during the second period.
After Scott Hartnell
scored the game's opening goal off a give-and-go play with Jaromir Jagr
, the Jets scored the game's next five goals, capped by two in 60 seconds early in the second period.
A defensive-zone turnover by the Flyers' Matt Carle
led to a Tobias Enstrom
shot from the left wall that Tanner Glass
re-directed behind Sergei Bobrovsky
at 3:39. Tim Stapleton
then beat Maxime Talbot
on a faceoff, with the puck rolling to Nik Antropov
, who deked Bobrovsky to the ice and lifted the puck over the prone goalie to make it 5-1.
That ended Bobrovsky's night and brought on Bryzgalov. Bobrovsky allowed five goals on 15 shots, but Bryzgalov surrendered four on 10 shots -- and after the game took full blame for the loss. He's lost four straight decisions and allowed at least four goals in each of his last four games.
"I have zero confidence in myself right now," he told reporters. "I am terrible. I will now apologize in front of the fans, in front of my teammates. I don't know what's going on. I have no answer for you guys. I thought in the last game against Montreal (when he allowed five goals on 28 shots), that nothing worse was going to happen. Today was worse.
"I am lost in the woods right now."
Teammates weren't willing to let their goalie take all the blame.
"It's a team game," van Riemsdyk said. "You win as a team, you lose as a team. You can't ever pin it on just one guy. We've got to be better in front of him. Lot of tips, point-blank chances we’ve got to cut down on. We have to make his job easier."
"it wasn’t our goalies' fault," defenseman Kimmo Timonen
said. "It was the whole team. It's hard to make saves when it's coming straight at the net. It's everybody’s fault. It's not the goalies' fault -- it's defense, forwards, everybody included."
After the Jets finished their run, the Flyers went on one of their own.
The teams traded goals to make it 6-2 before Briere and Maxime Talbot
scored 2:30 apart late in the second to make it 6-4 after two periods and give the Flyers a jolt of confidence.
"We talked about really ramping it up and putting more pressure on them," van Riemsdyk said.
That's just what they did, scoring three times in a 1:53 span to take a 7-6 lead just 3:02 into the third period.
Briere started the run by taking advantage of a big rebound allowed by Ondrej Pavelec
to score at 1:09 to make it 6-5. Just 1:14 later, Matt Read
gloved a rebound off Pavelec's shoulder, dropped it onto his stick and scored to tie the game at 6-6.
That ended Pavelec's night, but his replacement, Chris Mason
, didn't fare much better. Only 23 seconds later, Briere came out from behind the Winnipeg net and fired a pass through the goalmouth to van Riemsdyk, who put the Flyers ahead.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as the Jets tied the game just 28 seconds later on an Alexander Burmistrov
goal scored off a nice set-up by Antropov. Just 1:01 after that, Winnipeg went ahead on a Mark Stuart
goal off a Stapleton drop pass.
"We were up 5-1 and then all of a sudden you're down 7-6, it's tough to get the momentum back, but we were able to find a way," said Ladd.
Van Riemsdyk banged in a Timonen pass to tie the game at 8-8 at 16:21, but one final breakdown allowed the Jets to take the victory in the highest scoring game since the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins combined for 18 goals on Jan. 13, 1996, a 10-8 win by the Sharks in Pittsburgh.
Noel said it would be tough, but there were some positives he could take out of the game, including the fact that the Jets scored nine goals after entering the game with just 17 in their first eight.
"We'll get something out of it," he said. "We'll move forward. It wasn't an enjoyable night. We got the two points, we're happy about that; we got some guys on the board, we're happy about that. We'll take some things out of it, but we've got some work to do."
They'll have the flight to Florida for their next game, Saturday against the Lightning, to figure it out.
"I've never been a part of that and hopefully I never am again," Bogosian said. "It was interesting. I guess we just have to get our two points and get out of here."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK